PamEla J. Thompson '16, Gettysburg College
Date of Creation
Cynthia Marie Hoffman Studner said of the poem, "This is an ambitious poem that delivers on empathy, just as promised. The poem establishes a metaphor of a “taught thread” that pulls together the traveler and an “orange-coated mutt” spotted in Italy, and this thread weaves throughout the poem as one of continual and deep connection with others. One wonders of the empath’s fate, especially when the poem begins with the story of wives cremated beside their dead husbands. What are the implications of this empathy in terms of its being something the speaker must bear? At times, it is guilt, as in the case of the baby rabbit that cannot be saved. Later, it is the insensitivity of a father who laughs and orders a rabbit cooked and delivered on a plate. It seems the speaker ultimately comes to find purpose and usefulness in empathy, saving animals after all (making the dream come true in which “the thread connecting/ me to you does not snap,/ and you live,/ and you live”). But it is the stark absence of animals and others in the final section that haunts me. The tension and strangeness in the ending lines is satisfying in a way that resists closure. I want more, but at the same time, I don’t want more. And that seems just right."
This is the author's version of the work. This publication appears in Gettysburg College's institutional repository by permission of the copyright owner for personal use, not for redistribution.
Thompson, PamEla J., "The Empath’s Travel Log" (2015). Student Publications. 426.